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  • Writer's pictureMemorial Fernandina

May 10th, 2025 | Rev. Dr. Mark Charles

Many of you will know that last week I took a short trip to Northern Ireland. My main purpose was to spend time completing a few tasks at my parent’s home. When Mum passed last year, one of you commented to me that “home” would never be the same again. How right you were.  Everything has changed.


I left Northern Ireland in 2013. Since then, I’ve had opportunity to travel back many times. On this last visit, as I drove around familiar streets and roads, I found myself reflecting on how much the place has changed in the last 11 years – some old buildings torn down and new ones erected, businesses closed and new ones opening, housing developments sprouting up in places that I can remember being green fields not that long ago. Everything changes.


But despite so much change taking place (both in my parents' house and in general), it was, is, and forevermore will be “home” – a place where I am known, loved, and welcomed always.


While I was away, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church continued to gather making some major decisions about how we do our work as a global denomination, about what our Book of Discipline will now say about human sexuality, and about several other important matters. For many of you it might feel like everything is changing, and that might be unsettling, but I would want to paraphrase for you what I just wrote above - despite so much change taking place, the United Methodist Church has been, is, and forevermore will be “home” – a place where we and others are known, loved, and welcomed always.


To communicate clearly about what these decisions were and what their implications are, our Bishop, Tom Berlin, along with Alex Shanks and Molly McEntire (lead members of the Florida Delegation to the General Conference) hosted a webinar on Tuesday night. I highly recommend that all members of Memorial take time to view this webinar. It can be found here.  Also available separately are the excellent set of slides that were used in the webinar – they include a lot of good overview information also. They can be found here. Finally, the questions that were asked in the webinar Q&A have been typed up and the answers written out. You can view them here.


For the Memorial church family, I will host our own information session via Zoom on Wednesday, May 22nd. This will be an opportunity for us to discuss the local implications of the decisions made by General Conference. I hope you will plan to join us then. (Sign up to get the Zoom link HERE or call the church office.)


As I have said consistently these last six years, while these matters are important, they are not the epicenter of our missional calling. My prayer is that while we tend to what we have to tend to denominationally, Memorial and all other local churches will continue to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) and follow his leading to share the good news of God’s grace for all people in our community and world.


And as always, if you would like to get some time one to one to chat through any of these matters, please get in touch and we will make that happen.



Pastor Charlie

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